It never works anyway.
You will be told at a young age what your talents are. Enjoy the compliments, but don’t accept them at face value. You don’t want to walk a narrow path; attempt things you aren’t comfortable with and uncover skills or proclivities you didn’t know you possessed.
With any creative pursuit, learning when to stop is part of the challenge; this type of editing can be what separates ordinary from excellent. It’s very easy to make an oil painting muddy, an essay over-complicated, or a stir-fry mushy by not realizing when the work is complete.
Thomas Jefferson wrote in The Declaration of Independence “All men are created equal.” Today, we interpret “men” to mean “people,” but at that time “men” was not intended to be inclusive of women, or even of men who were not white. Inequity existed 200 years ago, and it still exists today. Don’t let anyone tell you that everyone gets a fair shot. Be sympathetic to the disadvantaged and work hard to include them.
Just go! Go visit your Peace Corps friend volunteering in Guatemala; go wear a fancy dress to the Daytime Emmys; go chat with the boys at the Ghanaian Soccer Academy benefit. When you get an invitation to do something out of the ordinary see it as a little microcosm of life’s possibilities and say “yes,” even if you’re tired, nervous, or uncertain. At least when you’re older, you’ll be able to reflect on your adventures, instead of regretting shiny bubbles of opportunity that floated away while you were moored to the couch.
When you present your work (a research paper, a painting, a song) don’t be tempted to qualify it beforehand with a verbal laundry list of possible flaws. Learn to fight off that natural insecurity and present your work for what it is. Let it be judged on its own merits at face value, then critique it afterward with feedback from the group.
Hang it in the closet next to your Vietnamese ao-dai, your Alaskan kuspuk and your Guatemalan huipil.
See: Wu Zetian (China), Benazir Bhutto (Pakistan), Mary McAleese (Ireland), Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberia), Angela Merkel (Germany), Golda Mier (Israel), Aung San Suu Kyi (Myanmar/Burma), Pratibah Patil (India), Gloria Arroyo (Philippines), Tarja Halonen (Finland), Michelle Bachelet (Chile), Helen Clark (New Zealand), Margaret Thatcher (Great Britain), Janet Jagan (Guyana).
Some of the most joyous things in life can be grimy, sloppy, dirty mayhem. Gardening, baking, painting, camping, childbirth: All glorious messes!
Just so you know the details: One calorie is the amount of heat energy required at a pressure of one atmosphere to raise the temperature of one gram of water one degree Celsius. What this means is that the more calories you eat, the more energy you have inside of you. When you don’t use that energy, say by playing sports or cooking a meal on your feet, it is stored in your body as fat. A lot of people don’t realize this; now you know that’s how it works.